Planetary paparazzo

NASA satellite snaps historic photographs of Mercury

By Stephen Ornes, 19:31 PM April 20, 2011

Hey, Mercury, say “cheese”!

Flying circles around Mercury MESSENGER, shown in an artist’s drawing, will spend 12 months in orbit around Mercury. . Credit: NASA

We earthlings can now get a better look at the planet closest to the sun. Since March 29, NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has been beaming back to Earth images of Mercury — the first ever taken from within the tiny planet’s orbit.

Mercury via MESSENGER

The first photographs include glimpses of Mercury’s surface never before seen by spacecraft. The images also show a lot of small craters, which look like pits in the ground. (To make a crater, drop a baseball into a sandbox, remove the...

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